Cover image for Rolling blackouts : dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq
Rolling blackouts : dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq
First edition.
Physical Description:
298 pages : chiefly color illustrations, color maps ; 24 cm
Cartoonist Sarah Glidden accompanies her two friends--reporters and founders of a journalism non-profit--as they research potential stories on the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East and, specifically, the war's refugees. Joining the trio is a childhood friend and former Marine whose past service in Iraq adds an unexpected and sometimes unwelcome viewpoint, both to the people they come across and perhaps even themselves. As the crew works their way through Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, Glidden observes the reporters as they ask civilians, refugees, and officials, "Who are you?" Everyone has a story to tell: the Iranian blogger, the United Nations refugee administrator, a taxi driver, the Iraqi refugee deported from the US, the Iraqis seeking refuge in Syria, and even the American Marine.


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Book GRAPHIC 956.70443 GLI 1 1

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Cartoonist Sarah Glidden follows up her acclaimed debut, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, with Rolling Blackouts, which details her two-month long journey through Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Glidden accompanies her two friends - reporters and founders of the journalistic non-profit The Seattle Globalist - as they research stories on the Iraq War's effect on the Middle East and, specifically, the war's refugees. Joining them is a former Marine and childhood friend of one of the journalists whose deployment to Iraq in 2007 adds an unexpected and sometimes unwelcome viewpoint, both to the people they come across and perhaps even themselves.The crew works their way through the region with the goal of asking civilians, refugees, and officials: 'who are you?' Everyone has a story to tell: the Iranian blogger, the United Nations Refugee administrator, a taxi driver, the Iraqi refugee deported from the US, the Iraqis seeking refuge in Syria, and even the American Marine. The journalists struggle equally with how to tell these stories and with how to market them into articles people will want to read.Glidden records all that she encounters with a sympathetic and searching eye - What is journalism? What is its purpose? What is honesty? Painted in her trademark soft muted watercolours and written with self-effacing humour, Rolling Blackouts cements Glidden's place as one of comics's most original nonfiction voices.

Author Notes

Sarah Glidden's debut book, How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less landed on several best of the year lists, including Entertainment Weekly; earned a YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens distinction; and won an Ignatz Award. A graduate of Boston University, she now lives in Seattle.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

Following her well-received How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, Glidden does a brilliant job in chronicling a two-month journey with journalist friends through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq to report stories about the impact of the Iraq War on Middle Eastern inhabitants. Traveling with them is Dan O'Brien, a U.S. veteran of the Iraq War, whose story is of significant journalistic interest. Whether he is able to tell the kind of story that people want to hear is another matter. The power of Glidden's narrative is in how it asks fundamental questions about what journalism is, what kinds of stories it tells, and what purpose these stories serve. She also manages to crystallize hours of recorded interviews with the locals into insightful discussions of complex situations. Hand-drawn panels, word balloons, and text combine with gorgeous watercolors to keep the story visually interesting, with many small storytelling touches-an interpreter's balloon printed over one from the person being interpreted-that help tell a complicated story with no pat answers. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

Splitting the difference between comics journalism and graphic autobiography, cartoonist Glidden joins two friends, members of a nonprofit journalism collective, on a reporting trip to the Middle East. They're accompanied by Dan, a childhood friend and ex-marine whose return to Iraq will be part of their story. There's much merit in Glidden's re-creations of the pair's interviews with refugees particularly an Iraqi refugee deported from the U.S. for alleged terrorist ties and in her depictions of the hard work of gathering background and lining up interview sources. But even more revealing are the insights into the journalistic process itself. At every turn, the group faces professional and ethical considerations, from the need as freelancers to market their stories to potential publishers to the awkwardness of questioning Dan about his role in the war. Glidden's simple illustrations are more functional than flamboyant but enhanced by graceful pastel watercoloring, they effectively convey the text-heavy story. At a time when the value of journalism is widely dismissed, her sympathetic portrayal of these idealistic practitioners makes a strong case for the profession's necessity.--Flagg, Gordon Copyright 2016 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

"IF I locked you up, it was so you could taste hate," Dr. Amin Jaafari's captor says in the extraordinary graphic novel version of Yasmina Kadra's "The Attack." "Anything can happen if you scratch at someone's self-esteem. Especially if they are feeling powerless." This is not just a simplified explanation of the complex motivations of a suicide bomber. These words, in a sense, exemplify the brutal cycle of the Middle East tragedy: Injustice leads to powerlessness, to frustration to rage, and finally to acts of violence that undercut any attempts at peace or reconciliation. Except this time, Dr. Amin - an Israeli Arab surgeon whose wife, Sihem, mysteriously disappears down the rabbit hole of radical extremism and violence - is being held in a darkened room by Palestinian radicals in the West Bank city of Jenin, not by the Shin Bet, the Israeli Security Agency. He has embarked on a quest across the Occupied Territories to try to unravel how and why his wife blew herself up along with innocent bystanders on a crowded Tel Aviv street. His voyage into the abyss starts in the emergency room at the hospital where he works, desperately trying to save victims of a suicide bomber, before discovering through Israeli friends that it was his wife who in fact murdered and harmed all these people. The genius of "The Attack" is that while you are led, Odysseus-like, through the back streets and alleys of Bethlehem and Jenin, meeting radicals and thugs, families who have turned violent out of deep resentment and frustration, people whose homes are bulldozed by Israeli soldiers, you are following Amin's inner journey in real time. You are also descending into the rabbit hole. What incident prompted Sihem to turn from a wife, beautiful and bright, into a killer? How did Amin lose his own Arab identity by closing himself off to the tragedy of those living in Gaza and Jenin while he pursued a secular, noninvasive life, safely cocooned in his hospital? Or, as one of the radicals tells him, "Now . . . you have experienced a bit of the horrors that your job has protected you from." There is no grand finale, no morality play, no lessons learned on the IsraeliPalestinian conflict in these pages. There is, in fact, no judgment of who is wrong and who is right. There is just the deep sense of loss, horror, bereavement and finally, shock. "I have no intention of . . . taking down the group," Amin says to his best friend, Kim, a Jewish surgeon, of his quest to find out who indoctrinated Sihem. "I just want to know how the love of my life excluded me from hers." "The Attack" is not even the story of how radicals take up arms, or why Sihem strapped on that explosive vest - was it out of love for another man, or was it her own true calling? "The Attack," ultimately, is a story of lost innocence. On one of his endless wanderings, this time through an olive grove near Bethlehem, Amin meets an old Jewish man, a friend of his father's. "All Palestinian Jews are a bit Arab and Israeli Arabs cannot deny being a little bit Jewish," he muses. The old man agrees with him, but asks: "So why is there so much hate in the same lineage?" RIAD SATTOUF, A former contributor to the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which sustained a terrorist attack in 2015 leaving 12 people dead, wrote "The Arab of the Future" first in French in 2014. The story, of a half-Syrian, half-French kid growing up in Libya in the strange, dark days of Qaddafi's rule from 1978 to 1984, was an instant success in France. He has come back with Part 2, which picks up in 1984. By now, the Sattouf family has returned to Ter Maaleh, Syria, the paternal village in the Homs countryside. The father, Abdel-Razak, an unappetizing bully from Page 1, teaches at a local university. He bemoans his lack of stature and money, and the fact that his sleazier relatives closer to the Assad regime have better sunglasses, houses and cars. He fantasizes about the vast garish villa he will soon build, but never does. The mother, Clémentine, a depressed Frenchwoman in exile, yearns for saucisson in a Muslim culture that bans pork. She tries to span the cultural gap, cooking pots of lentils over a portable stove, weaving a tapestry that she never completes and yearning for a washing machine or a generator. "Are you crazy?" her husband screeches. "It is forbidden! If someone reported us, I could go to prison!" "You're just saying that because it's expensive," she retorts. In between are their baffled children - 6-year-old Riad and his tiny brother, nicknamed Yahya. Riad has trouble sleeping. He tries to play with his Legos from France, but the children's games he plays with his cousins always involve killing Jews. The cultural shift from his previous life in France, or even the oddity of Libya, is a divide he finds too hard to traverse. Why are the teachers so brutal, beating children with sticks while teaching them patriotic songs? Why are they taught never to criticize Hafez Assad or his family? And why are people so afraid? The teacher is intrigued by his blond hair. "Tell me, what is your religion?" she asks him. "Are both your parents Syrian?" The question, of course, is does he have any Jewish blood. This volume of Sattouf's graphic memoir is more than just a coming-of-age story. It is a window into life under the Assads in a time of the Hama massacre, where thousands of Sunni men were butchered. It ends with a village tragedy, but one that could be a metaphor for the tragedy of Syria. LESS POIGNANT BUT impressive in its own naïve way is "Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq," by Sarah Glidden. Glidden is a West Coast cartoonist who teams up with a gang of independent reporters to traverse the war-torn Middle East. Ethics aside - is this war tourism? - there is something heady about Glidden's learning curve. "It's so weird for me to come to places where you just can't talk about certain things," one of her friends muses. "Because people just spout their mouths off left and right in America about any damned thing they want to." Her two-month voyage is a Middle East 101, a kind of "Let's Go: Middle East for Millennials." It's a child's vision, a comic book about statistics and data of refugees in Turkey; the Kurdish question; the lingering damage of the Iraq invasion told through the eyes of her fellow traveler, a former Marine called Dan who has obvious but vital observations like: "What would be best for our foreign policy would be if we moved away from all the military stuff and started programs that would help these people." It's hard not to utter to oneself, "Duh," as Glidden gradually takes on the multilayered complexities of the Middle East. But there is something fresh in her narrative. In the midst of her cultural wanderings - the endless cups of heavily sugared tea and the bewilderment she constantly feels - Glidden pieces together something that newspaper reporters often miss while trying so hard to analyze. By talking to people and living their lives, she unearths very real people and their real stories. ? JANINE DI GIOVANNI is the Middle East editor of Newsweek and the author, most recently, of "The Morning They Came for Us: Dispatches From Syria."

Library Journal Review

Award-winning Glidden's second full-length work (after How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less) is an intricate investigation of how the reality of conflict gets filtered through personal, political, and journalistic narrative. In Israel, leaders of the author's Birthright tour informed her experience, and she was both critical and thoughtful about the views presented to her. Here, the storytellers are her journalist friends seeking accounts of displaced Iraqis, the refugees themselves, and ex-marine Dan, who has served in Iraq and has his own understanding of war and its aftermath. Glidden spends most of the book documenting the trip but also parses the nature of journalism in our society of ephemeral online connectivity and polarized politics. As more involved works in this genre generate less popular buy-in and exposure, how are the crises of the world in conflict shared? To what end? Glidden's understated, face-focused illustration style gets under your skin-by removing her own personality from the writing, the author sucks readers in so deeply that you really feel present, seeing her journey through her eyes. Verdict Glidden puts great care into everything she does, and this work-quiet but challenging, plain yet beautiful-exemplifies her skillful, sensitive reportage.-Emilia Packard, Austin, TX © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.